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27 Mar 2007 / Julie

using humor with customers

I have a ton to say on interpersonal communication via computer mediated communication. My undergraduate thesis started it all (although ended up with a slightly different spin) and my work with the Seeking Synchronicity research project only gave me more to say.

One of the local supervisors for my service brought a session to my attention today and I wanted to share. All identifying information has been scrubbed because i’m a responsible cut & paster:

Patron: Chat transcript: will you marry me?
Librarian [name of librarian] has joined the session.
Librarian: Welcome to [name of vr service] I’m reading over your question and will be with you in just a moment.
Librarian: Well, [customer name], are you rich?
Patron: Patron is no longer connected.

If you’ve been providing virtual reference for more than a day, you’ve run across a session where the assumed kid is either testing you out before they ask a question or is simply there to play around. Some simply test our patience and others test our ability to remain calm and professional.

Whatever your comments on how the librarian handled this customer, I applaud her. I would have liked to see the customer stick around though… he might have had a question.

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